Is Email Marketing Really Worth the Hassle?


(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

A client calls me, anxious about a subscriber who’s not getting her emails. “What’s wrong?” my client wants to know. “Is my email service not working? How do we fix it?” And she wants me to tell her why the email isn’t being received by her client and how to make sure it does.

So here’s the bad news: I probably can’t tell you why it’s happening. There’s a whole list of possibilities and it’s usually not worth the effort to track down and check each one – or in some cases, even possible.

Some of the possible reasons are:

– The subscriber never confirmed her subscription.

– The subscriber’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) is blocking the messages, thinking they’re spam.

– The subscriber’s ISP is blocking all messages from my client’s email service due to a spam issue having nothing to do with my client.

– If the subscriber has his own web host that his email goes through, its spam filter might be blocking messages.

– The subscriber may have a spam filter on her own email client – Outlook, Thunderbird – that’s dumping the emails into a junk folder.

– The subscriber may have a filter set within their email client that’s moving the messages to another folder automatically.

– The subscriber is accidently deleting the messages, not realizing who they’re from.

– The email messages are getting lost somewhere in the web. If multiple messages from you are getting lost, this is probably not the case.

With all these ways emails can go astray, is email marketing really worth it?

My answer is a resounding YES!

Even though it’s not perfect, email is one of the few ways you can ‘push’ your content and marketing to people who have given you permission to do so. And it works – all the most profitable online businesses point to email marketing as a crucial element of their success.

If email is so important to growing your business and being profitable, how should you handle a subscriber reporting not receiving your emails?

First, look at your list management system to make sure the subscriber is a confirmed contact. If not, re-send the confirmation email message if your system lets you. Otherwise, have your would-be subscriber re-submit the opt-in request from your website.

If the subscriber is confirmed, have her check her Junk or Spam folder to see if the messages are landing there. If they are, your subscriber needs to add the from email address for your messages into her address book (or whatever other method will let her email client know these messages are not spam).

If the messages are not found in the Junk folder, make sure your subscriber doesn’t have a filter set up within his email client that’s unintentionally redirecting your messages to another folder.

If the mystery isn’t solved at this point, I’d suggest having the him try to subscribe again using another email address, such as a Gmail address. This is because the remaining options for trying to figure out what’s happening are more time consuming and not any more likely to resolve the problem. So if an easy work around like using another email address fixes the problem, it’s probably the way to go.

If you or your subscriber still want to pursue the issue, she can contact her ISP and/or her web host to see if they’re automatically blocking any messages.

The next step would be for you to contact your list management service to see if they are aware of any of their messages being blocked by the ISPs.

If the missing emails are still unexplained at this point, it’s unlikely you’ll ever know what’s happening, and the only solution is to have your subscriber re-subscribe.

There’s also a matter of perspective I often bring up with clients. We need to remember that marketing is a numbers game. Some small percentage of emails will not go through properly for whatever reason. An even bigger percentage don’t get opened and read.

While we all want to make sure everyone who wants our messages is able to receive them, it’s not usually worth an extensive investigation every time this issue comes up. Make sure the subscriber is confirmed in your system and make sure your emails are not in his Junk folder. After that, just have him re-subscribe.

Put more of your effort into figuring out how to make your subject lines and content attractive enough so that subscribers that DO get your messages actually open and read them! That’s the way to be successful with email marketing.

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